The Implications of the Redemptive Movement Hermeneutic -- By: Mike Stallard

Journal: Journal of Ministry and Theology
Volume: JMAT 09:1 (Spring 2005)
Article: The Implications of the Redemptive Movement Hermeneutic
Author: Mike Stallard

The Implications of the Redemptive Movement Hermeneutic

Mike Stallard

Professor of Systematic Theology
Baptist Bible Seminary, Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania

There has arisen within evangelical circles a new approach to application that is being called by its progenitors a redemptive movement hermeneutic, which views itself as a new and more proper way to handle the thorny problem of deciding which statements in the Bible are culturally relative as opposed to those teachings that are transcultural. The ethical issue being discussed the most in this connection is the role of women in the world, church, and home. In the end, the new redemptive movement hermeneutic becomes a way to assert a form of evangelical egalitarianism in the church that goes beyond the perceived isolated teachings of the Bible. That is, it is in that scheme God’s intention, discovered partly through cultural developments, to allow women to be pastors and to teach men and be co-leaders in the home.

The driving force for this innovative approach to the issue is William Webb’s 2001 book entitled Slaves, Women, & Homosexuals: Exploring the Hermeneutics of Cultural Analysis.1 Webb is Professor of NT at Heritage Theological Seminary in Cambridge, Ontario, Canada. That Webb’s approach is being accepted as a major thinking option within evangelicalism cannot be denied. Darrell Bock of Dallas Theological Seminary wrote a foreword to the book that applauds in some measure the direction that the book is taking.2 Gilbert Bilezekian, an egalitarian on women’s issues and

co-founder of Willow Creek Community Church in South Barring-ton, Illinois, has endorsed Webb’s redemptive movement hermeneutic.3 Apparently, other churches have adopted this way of approaching the issue of modern application of biblical teaching.4

The apparent rise in popularity of Webb’s redemptive movement hermeneutic requires a biblical response. Therefore, his view must be fully stated and understood. Such statement will require a general overview, mention of the eighteen criteria he has established to work through cultural application issues, and a study of the three case studies he presents (slaves, women, and homosexuals). Finally, a survey will show the many flaws the redemptive movement hermeneutic possesses. Overall, Webb’s methodology is biblically deficient and its pursuit may lead to the erosion of biblical authority.

The Outline of the Redemptive Mov...
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